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The Sony SRS-BTV5 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker has a lot going for it, including a solid design and great features like speakerphone and NFC capabilities, but it doesn’t beat the competition on price.
Sony Bluetooth Small Speaker
Senior editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of the reviews team since 2000. He covers the gadget range and is a prominent reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He is also an e-reader and e-publishing expert, and the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
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Small wireless Bluetooth speakers — especially the ball-shaped variety — continue to proliferate, and Sony has gotten in on the action with its SRS-BTV5, a $69.99 model that comes in black, white, and pink. (If the model number sounds uninviting, that’s because the name hasn’t been branded yet; it will be dubbed when Sony announces the winner of the contest.)
The Sony SRS-BTV5 is a sleek and compact ball-shaped wireless Bluetooth speaker that offers a good feature set, including a built-in rechargeable battery, speaker functions, aux input and NFC one-touch tap-to-pair technology.
Sound-wise, it fails to differentiate itself from the pack, and the NFC technology proved problematic.
The Sony SRS-BTV5 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker boasts speakerphone and NFC capabilities (unclear), but it doesn’t beat the competition on price.
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What sets this model apart from the competition? Well, it has a pretty slim design and the build quality seems good. What’s more, the SRS-BTV5 also includes some additional features that some speakers of this type lack: built-in speakerphone functions and – much more innovatively – one-touch push-to-pair (near-field communication) NFC technology designed to work with smartphones and other units that support in her.
Unfortunately, there are two major problems: the SRS-BTV5’s sound doesn’t beat the competition, and I couldn’t get NFC to work properly.
The speaker weighs 0.28 pounds or 4.5 ounces, so it’s quite light, but has just enough weight to make it feel substantial. In other words, your first impression is not that this thing is a completely cheap piece of plastic. However, I’m sure a lot of people won’t think it’s worth $70 either.
The single driver shoots upwards (it’s a 1.2 watt speaker) and a rounded shield on top protects the driver in case something falls on top of the speaker or if you drop it (which is more likely than you’d think – keep in mind that it is shaped like a ball and tends to roll when tapped). I appreciated that the speaker comes with a small carrying case. It’s nothing fancy, but it will keep the speaker from getting scratched if you stick it in your bag with things like keys.
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There is a slider switch at the bottom of the speaker to turn it on and put it in pairing and NFC mode. The speaker also has volume control plus a Micro-USB port for charging the speaker’s internal battery. This rechargeable battery is rated for up to 4 hours of battery life.
Right next to that USB port, you’ll find an audio input if you want to connect a non-Bluetooth audio device via an optional cable.
As mentioned, the SRS-BTV has speakerphone capabilities (there is an end/answer button on the speakerphone) and one-touch NFC technology. NFC allows you to tap your device on top of the speaker, which causes the device and speaker to connect or disconnect automatically. (To clarify: Bluetooth still handles audio streaming, but NFC handles the “handshake,” so you don’t need to match it on the screen.) Once they’re connected, you’ll be able to stream audio from your device — most likely a smartphone — to the speaker from up to about 10 meters (in some cases you can do better in this area).
I can’t say I was surprised by the sound of the SRS-BTV5. Not that it sounded worse than many of these compact spherical speakers, but I was disappointed that it didn’t sound better. Yes, you get more sound than you would from your smartphone or tablet’s speakers, but it was still pretty understated and thin. I’m sure anyone who hasn’t heard much from these little speakers will be impressed with how much sound they’re capable of producing for their size. But it just doesn’t stand out from the pack.
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The slide switch at the bottom of the speaker puts the device into pairing and NFC mode. Sara Tu
, which has similar features (except without NFC) but costs around $50 (it seems to be available only in Apple stores at this time). The Philips sounded clearly better and offered more bass and a fuller sound. It also has speaker functions.
As for the speaker on the SRS-BTV5, it sounds fine and would be a nice little speaker to have on your desk. It produces a significantly louder and clearer sound than the internal speaker in smartphones.
As I said in the introduction, I had a bit of trouble with NFC, even after carefully following the instructions that tell you to download the free NFC Easy Connect app from the Google Play Store. I tried it with a Samsung Galaxy S3 as well as a Sony Xperia T phone (I tried the Sony phone with and without the app installed).
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On several occasions the phone appeared to be paired via NFC, but the sound kept coming out of the phone’s speaker, not the SRS-BTV5. I tried NFC with both a black SRS-BTV5 and a white SRS-BTV5 and failed. The frustrating thing was that it seemed close to working, but then it didn’t. Finally, after about 30 minutes of trial and error, I gave up.
I was able to manually pair the speaker with a Samsung Galaxy S3 and a Sony Xperia phone. I’ve also charged it to an iPhone 4S and an iPad Mini without issue (neither iPhone currently offers NFC).
At the end of the day, I couldn’t care less if I could pair with NFC or not – it might save you a few seconds – but it should work. You can of course blame the user (me) for screwing something up – and that can easily be the case – but I’m just reporting my experiences with the product. Others may have better luck with NFC.
The strength of the SRS-BTV5 is its design and features. It’s a small and attractive wireless speaker that takes up little space in your bag and is an improvement over many smartphone, tablet and even laptop speakers. It looks well built and offers a speaker and NFC capabilities.
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While it sounds fine for what it is, unfortunately it doesn’t sound any better than all the other small speakers out there, some of which cost less. For example, the Philips Sound Shooter Wireless sounds great and costs $50. Despite my issues with NFC, I loved the Sony SRS-BTV5. I just think you could do a little better for your money.
Buy your favorite products and find the best offer with a single click. Designed to make shopping easy. The SRS-XB13 is durable and portable. It comes with a specially made strap so it’s easy to travel with. But don’t let its small size fool you, with Extra Bass™, a sound diffusion processor, this little speaker packs a lot of punch.
The durable, multi-directional outer strap makes this speaker ready for just about anything. Hang it from your backpack or wrist or even a parasol when you’re out in the sun. The downward-facing speaker will create a cascade of music that engulfs you in rhythm.
Don’t be fooled by its compact form, this small speaker has big surround sound. The Sound Diffusion processor expands the sound in any room with its DSP technology.
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, this speaker is as good outside as it is inside. Take it to the pool, the river or the park and you can listen to your music while you and your friends enjoy the sun.
Battery life to keep the party going. A new battery indicator, right on your smartphone, tells you when it’s time to recharge.
Do you want to call? No problem. Whether you’re at home or out, the built-in microphone lets you enjoy a hands-free call directly through your speaker.
For even bigger sound, connect two SRS-XB13 speakers wirelessly for even more expansive stereo sound.
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The compact speaker with the big sound. The SRS-XB13 has exceptional sound features such as EXTRA BASS™ and a Sound Diffusion Processor for enhanced beats and wider sound dispersion. And with a multi-directional strap, 16 hours of battery life on a full charge, and its waterproof and dustproof exterior, this speaker is ready to bring big sound wherever you go.
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